Good news! Private residential construction spending increased by 2.2% in February (compared to January). It’s not a big gain, but according to Eye on Housing, residential construction activity is more than 20% above its year-ago level and about 36% higher than the cyclical low in mid-2011.
According to the Eye on Housing blog, the cost of building materials have increased quickly. This is the result of the housing recovery that has gained momentum since the start of 2012. Overall producer prices have increased by less than 3%. On the other hand, softwood lumber (30%), OSB (80%) and gypsum (26%) prices are higher than at the start of last year.
According to a recently released study by the NAHB Economics Group, What Home Buyers Really Want, energy efficiency is at the top of home buyers’ most wanted list. In the study, 94% of home buyers want energy-star rated appliances, 91% want an energy-star rating for the whole home, 89% want energy-star rated windows, and 88% want ceiling fans. The What Home Builders Really Want research is based on a nationwide 2012 survey of new and potential home buyers. The report provides insight into buyers’ preferences for home type and size, room layout and design, kitchen and baths, windows and doors, accessibility and outdoor features, electronics and technology in the home, energy efficiency, choosing a community, and trade-offs buyers are willing to make.
According to the latest figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of new homes increased in January by 28.9% from a year ago, and 15.6% since December. On an annual seasonally-adjusted basis, newly built, single-family homes sold at a 437,000 pace. New home sales increased in every region. The West had the biggest gain at 45.3%. The Northeast posted a 27.6% increase, and the Midwest saw an increase of 11.1%. The South had the lowest increase (3.2%).
Ten northwest cities are listed in the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI). The NAHB/First American IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The northwest cities in the index are Corvallis, Medford, Portland, Bellingham, Kennewick, Longview, Seattle, Spokane, Wenatchee, and Yakima.
More good news for the home building industry. According to the latest NAHB Economics housing and economic forecast, single-family and multifamily construction will see strong growth rates, with remodeling experiencing lesser but still positive growth.
Good news for the construction industry. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, single-family and multifamily housing starts increased by 12.1% to 954,000 units last month. This is the highest rate in more than four years. Single-family housing starts jumped by 8.1% to 616,000 units in December. Multifamily construction fared even better with an increase of 23.1% (338,000 units). In the West, single-family and multifamily housing starts increased by 18.7%. The Midwest saw the biggest gain with 24.7%, while the Northeast increased by 21.4%. The South experienced the smallest jump with only an improvement of 3.8%.
The latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index was released today. Builders’ confidence remained at the same level (47) as last month. The index continues to hold at its highest level since April of 2006. The three-month moving average for the West increased by four points to 51.